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Colts QB Manning nears major milestone

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By The Associated Press
Thursday, Dec. 24, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS — Peyton Manning makes milestones seem routine.

Winning three MVPs and in position for a record fourth• Just another typical Manning season.

Breaking John Unitas' franchise record for wins, passing Fran Tarkenton for third on the career TD list, moving past Warren Moon and John Elway for third on the career completions chart• All part of the job.

Now Manning can become the fourth member of the NFL's 50,000-yard club — if he plays long enough to throw for 159 yards Sunday against the New York Jets.

Not that Manning is thinking about it.

"We're right in the middle of the season, and there's so much going on, so much at stake," he said Wednesday. "Coach (Jim) Caldwell's instructions were the same as they have been each week: 'Here's what we've got to do to win the ballgame, now please go out and do it.' "

Neither Manning nor Caldwell have said how long the quarterback will play.

On any other week, even against the league's No. 1 pass defense, 159 yards would seem like a sure thing.

But with the Colts wrapping up the AFC's top seed two weeks ago, Indy's biggest concern is keeping its starters healthy for the playoffs, and nobody will say if the starters will be pulled early.

Clearly, there are still some significant things at stake Sunday.

A win would make Indy the second team in league history to go 15-0 in the regular season and would wrap up a perfect home season for only the second time since the franchise moved from Baltimore. The other time was 2006, when the Colts won the Super Bowl.

Players are also chasing individual goals, incentive bonuses and perhaps some postseason awards.

Three-time Pro Bowl receiver Reggie Wayne needs eight receptions for his second 100-catch season. Tight end Dallas Clark needs three yards for his first 1,000-yard season, and 11 catches to reach 100. With three more catches, Pierre Garcon would become the fifth Colts receiver with 50 catches this season, a first in franchise history.

And then there's Manning, who needs one more 300-yard game to tie the single season record (10), set by Rich Gannon in 2002 and matched last year by Drew Brees. Manning also had a 299-yard game against Baltimore last month.

The more likely scenario, however, is Manning joining Brett Favre, Dan Marino and Elway in the exclusive 50,000 club — a number that boggles the mind of those who know Manning best.

"Wow! That's impressive," Clark said. "But with him, you really don't get shocked too much."

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